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Former magistrate pointed rifle at ex-tenant and racially abused him, court hears

PUBLISHED: 13:46 16 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:46 16 July 2019

Nigel Stringer is on trial accused of a racist attack against a former tenant. His son has also been charged over the alleged incident. Picture: Ian Burt

Nigel Stringer is on trial accused of a racist attack against a former tenant. His son has also been charged over the alleged incident. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

A former Norfolk magistrate pointed a rifle at a tenant and called him a racist name when he attempted to retrieve his belongings, a court heard.

Anthony Munatswa claimed he was "brutally assaulted" with a hockey stick and a hammer by Nigel Stringer, 68, and his son Rowan at their Morningthorpe home.

Mr Munatswa said he had walked onto their property to collect his personal belongings from Stringer, who was refusing to hand them over despite a court order.

But giving evidence at Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday he said he was unsuccessful as Stringer and his son attacked him on their driveway.

Nigel Stringer, 68, and Rowan Stringer, 24, of Boyland Hall, Hempnall Road, Morningthorpe, have denied racially aggravated assault causing actual bodily harm on January 14 last year and alternative charges of assault causing actual bodily harm and battery.

They have also denied racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress.

Mr Munatswa said he had lived at a property owned by Stringer on Riverside Road in Norwich between 2014 and 2016.

He said Stringer had offered to store his personal belongings, which included about 72 boxes of trainers and gym equipment.

But when Mr Munatswa asked Stringer for his belongings back in 2017, the court heard that there was a "dispute".

The matter ended in a civil court hearing, with an order made on January 5 that Stringer should make the belongings available for collection.

Mr Munatswa was also ordered to pay Stringer £820.

Mr Munatswa said he tried without success to arrange a date to collect his belongings.

After a fortnight he went to Mr Stringer's home, near Long Stratton, with three friends in three cars to collect his possessions.

On the way to the house Mr Munatswa called the police to inform them of what he was doing and then stood at Mr Stringer's gate and tried to call him to tell him he had come to collect his belongings, he said.

After leaving a voicemail message he had climbed over a gate and walked towards the house and was then allegedly confronted and attacked by Nigel Stringer and his son.

Mr Munatswa said: "When I got to the part of the driveway in front of the house I made a point of taking my hands out of my pockets and spread my fingers apart to show I had absolutely nothing in my hands."

He said he came to a stop and a lady he believed to be Mrs Stringer shouted and swore at him to get off the property.

Mr Munatswa continued: "In response I said I would like to speak to Nigel, I would like to pick up my belongings.

"At that point, a young man I believe to be Mr Stringer's son came rushing out of the house with a knife in one hand a hockey stick in the other.

"A few seconds later he was joined by Mr Stringer (Nigel). When he first came to the front of the house he had a rifle trained on me."

Mr Munatswa said Stringer put the rifle down inside the house and picked up a hammer.

"He proceeded to come outside the house and joined his son.

"When Rowan came out, at first I just remained where I stood and put my hands up.

"As he continued to charge towards me he raised the hockey stick up and started to lower it at great speed and force.

"I realised he was going to hit me and I put my hands up and defended the blows he was raining down on me."

Following his arrest Nigel Stringer said Mr Munatswa had gone to his house for "trouble" and claimed Mr Munatswa had thrown punches at him.

He said he had told Mr Munatswa that he would use "reasonable force" if he had to get him off his land.

Nigel Stringer told police he had swung the hockey stick in the air to frighten Mr Munatswa off and had struck him on the arms and legs but not on the head.

He claimed he used a racist name when he was warning Mr Munatswa's friends to keep off his land but denied directing the word at Mr Munatswa.

Rowan Stringer said he had picked up a hammer and a penknife when he saw Mr Munatswa on the drive and three other men in a wooded area.

He said he had swung the hammer at Mr Munatswa to intimidate him but hadn't made contact with him.

He denied using the racist name.

The trial,expected to last two weeks, continues.

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